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Martin Roscoe: A celebrity recital from the Fifth Chetham’s International Summer School and Festival for Pianists
Frederic CHOPIN
(1810-1849) Ballade No. 1 in G minor Op. 23 (1836) [8:53]
Robert KEELEY (b. 1926) Ballade (2001) [7:58]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856): Kreisleriana Op. 16 (1838) [29:57]
Martin Roscoe (piano)
rec. Whiteley Hall, Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester, 23 August 2005. DDD
DUNELM DRD0247 [47:18]

Chetham’s Music School in Manchester has long been a major component of the city’s musical scene and has sent some impressive performers into the world, including the pianist Murray Maclachlan, who now heads Chetham’s keyboard department. The school is also well-known for its choir. Since 2000 the school has sponsored an International Summer School and Festival for pianists, which has includes recitals by members of its keyboard department and by the Faculty of the Summer School. In 2004 and 2005 Martin Roscoe was a Faculty member and recitalist.

Martin Roscoe is most familiar to CD collectors for his many performances on different labels of the music of Dohnanyi, Pärt and George Lloyd. He is also known for several entries in Hyperion’s series of The Romantic Piano Concerto. In this recital he adheres pretty firmly to the Romantic repertoire, performing standards by Chopin and Schumann, and only entering the twentieth century with the Ballade of the contemporary British composer Robert Keeley.

To start with the most modern piece, Robert Keeley’s Ballade made a very good impression. As mentioned above, it was influenced in form by the Chopin Ballades. Like them the basic material is put through a variety of contrasts and convolutions and one constantly experiences finger-work and legato playing that owe a lot to Chopin. But this is also a modern piece cast in a fairly conservative idiom with some impressionism thrown in. Roscoe plays it with great sympathy and also with a lot of excitement. As Keeley is also prominent as a keyboardist, one can imagine him writing a very exciting two-piano work for himself and Martin Roscoe to perform.

In the aforementioned Chopin Ballade No.1 Roscoe is less exciting. The quick sections are played in true virtuoso fashion, but are too methodical. The slower, central section is better handled and Roscoe masterfully plays the return to the faster tempo. Roscoe shows the same disability in the Schumann Kreisleriana. As is well known, each of these musical self-portraits has a fast and a slow section. Roscoe plays the slow sections both poetically and with technical ability, but the faster sections again are too by-the-book: technically correct, but not very moving.

This CD is a recording of an actual recital very competently recorded by Jim Pattison of Dunelm. The notes are quite good. There are many recordings of Kreisleriana and the Chopin Ballade. This recital would make a good back-up version of these pieces. But it’s true selling point is the Keeley Ballade.

William Kreindler

see also review by Ian Milnes




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